Friendraise before you Fundraise

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Alumni, Fundraising, Higher Education, Marketing, Recruitment, Social Media, Strategy, Technology, Thoughts | Posted on 02-03-2009


Just wanted to share a simple thought I had working on a project last week.

Do friendraising before you do fundraising.

I’m more likely to give a good friend the $$ they ask for.  But a stranger or someone I haven’t talked to in years?  Probably wouldn’t give them the $$ they ask for.  Why is that? I’ve kept in touch with my good friend.  I’ve seen all of the great things they have done over the past several years for others (or for me).  I’ve helped them out, they’ve helped me out in the past. We’re friends. We have a relationship.

Compare that to your university or college.  This school in particular told me that they haven’t been very good in staying in contact with their alumni.  There was even a period where donors didn’t even receive a thank you note after giving. People want to feel appreciated, especially when they are giving up their money during these tough times.

It’s all about relationships. And that’s why I’m excited about all of these tools on the web that help facilitate friendships. Nearly every time someone on Facebook or Twitter asks for donations towards a cause, whether it’s a Polar Bear Plunge, March of Dimes, etc. I’ll usually give $5 or $10.  Why? Because I have a relationship with that person and I’d like to help them out. The amount might be small, but the friendship facilitated it.

And what would happen if my Alma Mater asked for a small donation on Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn after we’d been ‘friends’ and adding value to each other for a few months?  I’d donate.

What can you do for your alumni? What can your alumni do for you?  Work together.  Be friends, and when that time comes, they’ll probably hesitate less to give $$ to the cause.

Comments posted (5)

I haven’t seen anyone pull of social fundraising apps. I run into the causes guys a lot around here, and they have a good app but I haven’t seen it make the kind of impact that it could.

I think we’re thinking along the lines of distributed viral potlucks with micro-donations and streaming pictures…. tough nut to crack though.

any ideas?

Who would have the nerve to ask you for money on twitter for a Polar Plunge? (please click on “Todd” to find out)

Note to self: Send Brad and Jen a thank you note for attending the basketball game on Friday. Then Twitter Brad a solicitation for a gift to Butler.

Seriously, good little piece here, Brad. This is the way us development types in higher ed need to think with regard to some of our current students and young alumni. Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done.

Knowledge is key. Teaching my colleagues about Twitter, Facebook, and other social web entities will be paramount. This stuff isn’t going away, so let’s find out everything we can about it, embrace it and make it work.

Each person has a perferred method. I respect that. Face to face, mailbox, phone, email, Twitter, Facebook, etc. It’s all fair game.

I say, let’s not let the medium limit our ability to form relationships. Just because we don’t know about it isn’t good enough anymore, unless you want to get passed by.


You’re absolutely right! A little thought, but surprisingly not always thought of. I’m amazed at how people can just ask complete strangers to borrow something. And Alumni and Development Offices should know better than that. Like you said, even a simple thank you (or follow back on Twitter) is enough sometimes for some people. Of course you don’t just want to stop there, but rather develop a deeper relationship than that. Great post!

I totally agree. And I think in some ways this could apply to recruiting students too. We’re planning to have our Bachelor of Arts program sponsor some stuff at local highschools . . . maybe a field trip, or new equipment for a classroom or whatever. Then when we come out and try to convince students to do their B.A. here, they’ll know who we are and feel like we have a relationship, perhaps.

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